Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (679)

John Curran

Ceist:

679. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her views on the recent report from an organisation (details supplied), which found that the rate of in-work poverty among lone parents more than doubled between 2012 and 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I note the report referred to by the Deputy.

The policy goal of the changes to the OFP scheme were to tackle long-term social welfare dependency - and its associated poverty risks - through a tapering of income supports and a more active engagement process offering enhanced educational, training and employment supports for lone parents via the Department’s Intreo service.

A recent review of in-work supports found that the current range of supports works very well for the vast majority of families and facilitates an element of choice which allows them to select the option which best suits their needs.

A working lone parent on OFP and working 15 hours per week is raised significantly above the poverty line. This parent is currently incentivised to work additional hours to qualify for Working Family Payment (WFP). Even at the WFP minimum 19 hours per week and on the National Minimum Wage, a lone parent on WFP is lifted significantly above the poverty line.

The SVP report uses the 2012 EU-SILC in-work poverty figure for single parents as the base line for its assertion that lone parent in-work poverty in Ireland has more than doubled from 8.9% to 20.8% since 2012. As the table below shows, the relevant EU-SILC figure for 2008 was 26.2%, so compared to the 2017 figure of 20.8% there has been a reduction of in-work poverty for single parents over the last decade, which puts a different perspective on this matter.

In-Work at-risk-of-poverty rate by household type - Single Person with dependent children

Year

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Ireland

26.2%

18.0%

10.0%

10.9%

8.9%

10.5%

11.8%

14.0%

20.3%

20.8%

Source: EU-SILC Data

Budget 2019 raised the weekly rates of payment for working age schemes and also increased the income disregard for one-parent family payment and jobseeker’s transition payment recipients to €150 per week with effect from 25/03/19 (the highest income disregard level to date). The weekly rates of the IQC in 2019 will also increase: by €2.20 per week (from €31.80 to €34) for children under 12; and by €5.20 per week (from €31.80 to €37) for children 12 and over. This measure will benefit over 370,000 children and will help to tackle child poverty.

With regard to increases introduced in Budget 2019 alone, for example, a lone parent working 15 hours per week at the National Minimum Wage is now better off by almost €1,000 per year.

The Department’s social impact assessments of Budgets 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are an indicator of the improvements over that time for lone parents. These show a cumulative increase of €43.75 in the average weekly household income of employed lone parents (and €45.00 for unemployed lone parents). This compares favourably with a weekly increase of €39.25 for the average household.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is in the final stages of drafting the new Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy which will assemble in one place the range of policy measures across government departments that are designed to address the different aspects of poverty and social exclusion. It is intended that it will include targeted actions to improve supports that allow lone parents to take up education, training and employment opportunities. The new strategy will include a programme of work to identify the actions and services that have the most significant impact on reducing poverty and deprivation for different groups, including children.